E=

cc licensed flickr photo shared by chrisinplymouth

E = EXACT

Health Care is not an exact science.  That’s right.  We want it to be…and I see much frustration, disappointment and even desperation because of this fact, but it’s the truth.  Despite all the medical advances and advertising of drugs that seem to point to the opposite, there really isn’t a “pill” for every illness or a test to diagnose every medical condition.  Sometimes there is no clear cut answer to a health problem, nor a solution.

Medicine and Pharmacy are applied science which means we take science and apply it to people.  We take everything we know about anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, therapeutics, etc., and apply it to individuals who have their own unique physical, biological and genetic differences (not to mention the social, cultural, and psychological aspects).  From this application of knowledge to each individual situation, diagnosis is made and treatments are decided upon.

cc Flickr shared by chrisinplymouth

E = ERRORS

This applying of science also means that medical care is not perfect.  Combine that with the speed at which this knowledge needs to be applied to patients and situations, errors are inevitable.  Here’s a quote from Dr. Brian Goldman that had me thinking this week.

What I’ve learned is that errors are absolutely ubiquitous. We work in a system where errors happen every day.  Where 1 in 10 medications are either the wrong medication given in hospital or the wrong dosage…  In this country as many as 24,000 Canadians die  [every year] from preventable medical errors. [which is a gross underestimate]

We all know someone who has had sub-optimal medical care or errors made in their care.  Often there is anger towards the professionals that made the mistake.  I’ve been on both ends of that situation.

There is an expectation of perfection in health care.  As patients we expect our health professionals to be competent, and so we should.  But as a health professional I know we are all human and lack perfection.  We all fall short and can make mistakes.

I’ve made mistakes in my career and will most likely make a few more before I am done.  Fortunately I have never made a mistake that has seriously harmed someone or caused a death.  But I know each time I put my lab coat on it is a real possibility.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by chrisinplymouth

E= e-PATIENT

The possibility for error is why I continually encourage people to be engaged in their health care.   Not because you shouldn’t trust your health providers.  Quite the opposite.  You need to be an active partner so a trust relationship is essential. Working as a team is the best way to ensure optimum health care.  How can you do this?  Get to know your own body, your medical conditions, your medications.  Ask questions. We need you to be as educated as possible.

More and more patients are getting health information over the internet.  (Interestingly, Health Professionals are often divided over this.  Some thinking this is great and others not so much).  I think the more knowledge you acquire about your own health the better.  And this is where the trust relationship comes into play.  Yes, there can be some bad information out there.  So you check it out with your doctor or pharmacist.

Last week I had a patient in tears because she had read on the internet that her diabetes medication could give her seizures and she didn’t know what to do.  Was that good information?  No.  It wasn’t true.  But I didn’t advise her to stay away from internet health information.  I provided her with some reputable sites and encouraged her to learn more about her disease and contact me in a week to go over what she had learned.   As one e-patient says in this video, “When push comes to shove you check with your [health professional]. They’re there for a reason”

Here’s an example of the growing movement of “e-patients.”  As you’ll see, the “e” stands for many great attributes that can lead to a safer, more participatory, less paternalistic model of health care.

All I Want for Christmas…

Gratitude.  It was top of my list for Christmas this year.  To feel more grateful for the life I have, to not need more, to feel settled and ultimately at peace.  So while I sit in my quiet house, the chaos of the day having quieted down, the gifts I have asked for have arrived.

Flickr shared by Wolfsavard

The past two months I have had several close friends suffer serious health problems.  All of them went from lives busy with work, kids activities, holiday plans….  then everything in their lives suddenly came to a grinding halt.  When your health fails, that’s all that’s on the plate.  So, I am grateful for my health;  so far my life continues as is, and I wish to not take that for granted.

Working in the inner city once more this week reminded me of how grateful I am for my parents.  I am fortunate that they had no drug or alcohol addiction, no mental health issues or extreme  poverty.  They managed to make things work and keep our family functional and enriched.  It allowed me to develop and grow and have a “normal” childhood, unlike so many in our city.

I am grateful for my education.  My parents somehow instilled in us the importance of furthering our education.  It was not an option for us to learn, our only choice was what to learn about.  It continues to lead me in my career and to passing on that value to my own children.

Lastly, my gratitude falls to those who are closest to me.  There are people in my life who know the good in me and also the not so good in me….yet still choose to love me.  They are the ones who make life beautiful.  You know who you are.

Merry Christmas

Combination Education

This past week I was chatting with an educator in Australia about many things, including the unique school program I’ve been a part of for several years.  When she asked me if I blog about it (as she was interested in learning more about the program) I had to say no.

It got me thinking that maybe it was about time I at least wrote a post.  I’ve had many people ask me about the logistics of our school program and how it looks for the kids, parents and teachers.   So it’s about time I put pen to paper…or rather fingers to the keyboard, about this fantastic school program.

In the Classroom with the Grade Two's

Stony Creek is a Program of choice within the Parkland School Division.  The structure of the program involves 2 days of classroom instruction where students are in the classroom learning Social Studies, Science, Art and Gym.  The other three days a week students learn at home, in essence home school, in the subjects of Math, Language Arts and Health.

But this doesn’t explain what the program really is.  Part of the beauty of the program structure is that once a month every parent involved in the program is in the classroom with the kids for the day (about 40 families presently).  And on the other end, also once a month, the teacher comes to each student’s home so the student can share his home school work with the teacher.  In practice, this lends itself to the formation of a community where I, as a parent, know each of the kids in the classroom quite well.  I also know the teachers on a level that normally I wouldn’t by having them in my home every month.

Typically the same two teachers are teaching the kids from grades 1 to 6 so they get to know each child’s learning style, strengths and areas for growth quite well over the years, as well as getting a picture of their family life.  And it’s even better for the kids who are beyond excited every month to show their teacher not only their school work, but their pets, their hobbies and anything else they can drag out.  My kids always make tea for their teacher and love sharing a cup while they show off their projects.  And they equally love the days I am in the classroom with them.

Home School day for Ben

One of the best features of the program, for me, is the extra time it gives me with my kids.  Not to say that homeschooling is not a pile of work……it is.  The prep alone is time consuming, but the rewards make it so worth it.  My oldest son Ben just entered “regular” school for the first time this year and is now realizing how lucky he was to have 6 years at home and in the Stony Creek Program.

The youngest always learns with his brothers

My son Noah, in Grade Three, continues to enjoy the program.  He can explore topics he enjoys like History and Mythology, while covering core learning objectives.  I can tailor Math to his learning style and work one on one with him until he really understands concepts.  I have a choice as to what type of resources best fit my child for these subjects as long as Alberta Learning Objectives are met.  It really is personalized, child centered learning, at it’s best.  And the mix of one on one learning at home and group learning at school is phenomenal.

In the years I have been involved in Stony Creek I have come to have a deep appreciation for the teaching profession.  Many of my friends and family are teachers and many teachers I have worked with have become friends. I have spent amazing days in the classroom with kids I have come to love over the years, and have equally amazing days at home seeing my kids delve into areas of interest that we would not have had time to explore if they were in a classroom full time.

Cake for Breakfast

In our house, the first day of school calls for cake for breakfast.

Breakfast Cake 2011

Every year until this one, it was only me that had to deal with sugar laden kids all morning on that first day.  My boys have always been home on the first day as it was always our first day of homeschooling.  We would have our cake and discuss what we were excited to learn about this year.  The boys could throw any topic out there they were interested in and we would work it into the curriculum in the following months.

This year is a major change for us.  While the cake was still the main course this morning, shortly after we filled up on sugar, I left with Ben to bring him to his new school.  This is the first year he has ever gone to full time school.

Homeschool 2007

After settling him in and meeting his teacher I walked away knowing that it would be an exciting day for him……And then I cried like a baby.  I know many parents do this when they first bring their child to Kindergarten so I guess I had 6 years worth of tears to shed.

Ben is happy to go to school and it was really me that had to struggle with the decision.  It is a letting go of control for me to have the bulk of his education in someone else’s hands for the first time.  I am used to planning all his Language Arts lessons, picking novels for the year and teaching him math with a curriculum that I felt suited his learning.  We embarked on the journey together every year, and now he is embarking on his own.

Homeschool 2009

It really is the best decision for us all right now.  I am back working full time and the work load of three kids home schooling would be too much.  Noah is still attending the Stony Creek program and is home schooling three days a week. I am truly looking forward to the extra time with just him.  He is such an enthusiastic learner and excited about so many things that it spills over to me as an educator.

Did I say alone with Noah?  Well, Sam is just as enthusiastic.  He takes just as much planning as his brother as he refuses to be left out.  So really, we are still homeschooling two!

Breakfast Cake 2010

So now I sit with my coffee, ready to start off the homeschool year minus my oldest.  I miss his presence and miss the dynamic of the three, but know that this year will bring many new learning adventures for us all.

Homeschool 2010

Homeschool 2006 Canopic Jars

Homeschool 2006

Homeschool 2006